ACC: Jacoby Ford

Week 5: Did you know?

October, 1, 2010
10/01/10
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Here’s your weekly dose of ACC fun facts, thanks to sports information directors in the league:
  • NC State wideout Jarvis Williams has averaged a touchdown every 5.9 catches for his career, the best mark in school history. Tight end George Bryan’s mark of 6.3 ranks third. In fifth place is Owen Spencer, who has scored every 7.3 times he makes a grab.
  • Georgia Tech has not lost back-to-back games in three seasons under coach Paul Johnson.
  • Georgia Tech and Wake Forest have identical turnover margins -- zero. The Jackets have gained six and lost six, while the Deacs have gained seven and lost seven.
  • Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Virginia coach Mike London have the same birthday, Oct. 9. Fisher’s FSU team will face rival Miami that day, while the Cavaliers will play at Georgia Tech. Dabo Swinney’s Clemson squad will play at Wake Forest on his 41st birthday.
  • Wake Forest has three sets of brothers on the team this year: senior linebacker Hunter Haynes and sophomore linebacker Riley Haynes from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; sophomore wide receiver Chris Givens and freshman running back Nick Knott from Wylie, Texas; and redshirt freshman defensive end Zach Thompson and true freshman quarterback Patrick Thompson from Ashburn, Va. The Thompson brothers are twins who joined the Demon Deacons a year apart.
  • Boston College saw its consecutive game scoring streak stopped at 148 games last week in a 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech. BC had gone 12 years without failing to score; the last time the Eagles were shutout was on October 8, 1998 by Virginia Tech.
  • Since 2005 when the ACC began competing in divisions, Virginia Tech has been the most successful team in interdivisional play. The Hokies are 14-5 against the Atlantic Division during that time, a .737 winning percentage.
  • Clemson and Miami have played to overtime each of the past three meetings, just the second FBS series that has occurred in. The only other series that took place was the Central Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan series. Those two schools played overtime games every year between 2004-06. What is even more strange about the Clemson vs. Miami series is that the visiting team has won all three overtime games. That includes last year when Clemson won 40-37 in overtime in “walk-off” fashion on a Kyle Parker to Jacoby Ford 26-yard touchdown pass.
  • Maryland has been one of the top scoring teams in the league (34.5 ppg) despite posting 319.0 yards per game in total offense thanks to the big play. The Terps already have 27 plays of 20 yards or longer this year, which has resulted in 10 touchdowns. In 2009, Maryland had just 13 touchdowns off explosive plays. The Terps had four scoring plays over 50 yards against FIU last week. The Terps have 10 plays of 50 yards or longer this year (three on punt returns, three on passes, three on rushes and one on an interception return) after only eight last season.
  • This is only the second time since 1994 that an unranked Virginia Tech team will play a true road game at a ranked opponent’s stadium (using the AP poll). The only other time came in 2008 when Tech lost at No. 24 Florida State. Under head coach Frank Beamer, this has happened only 13 times and the Hokies’ only win in this scenario came in 1989 when the Hokies went to Morgantown and beat No. 9 West Virginia, 12-10.
  • Virginia’s 1995 33-28 win against then-No. 2 Florida State featured a total of 62 players (32 FSU, 30 UVA) who went on to the NFL. Of the 62 players, 45 combined actually played in the game. Surprisingly, 24 were Virginia players and 21 were from FSU. Paul London, Mike London's brother, started as a cornerback and made four tackles in that game - two assisted and two unassisted.
  • This is the latest start to the ACC schedule for Clemson since 1982 when the Tigers had their first league game on Oct. 9 at Virginia. The Miami game will be the first of eight straight ACC games on eight straight Saturdays. It is the first time since 2003 that Clemson has played eight straight ACC games, and the first time in history Clemson will play eight straight league opponents in eight consecutive weeks.
  • In the first two games of the season, three different Tar Heels played center, including sophomore Jonathan Cooper, junior Cam Holland and senior Alan Pelc. The Tar Heels have played at least eight linemen in each of the first three games. Against LSU, 10 different linemen played at least one offensive series.
  • Duke coach David Cutcliffe has an overall head coaching record of 21-9 (.700) in the month of October. Cutcliffe led Ole Miss to a 17-6 record in October and is 4-3 in the month at Duke.
  • Over the past two seasons, the Blue Devils are 3-1 in road games played in October with wins against Vanderbilt (2008), NC State (2009) and Virginia (2009). The lone loss was a 27-0 defeat at Georgia Tech in 2008.

Friday interview: Xavier Dye

September, 3, 2010
9/03/10
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Clemson senior Xavier Dye is the leading returning receiver with 14 receptions for 236 yards and three touchdowns, and he is the only returning starter at the position. He caught one touchdown pass from Kyle Parker last season, one from C.J. Spiller, and one from Jacoby Ford. The Tigers will miss Ford’s production last year, as he had 56 catches for 779 yards and six touchdowns, but he’s not the only one. Clemson graduated its top three receivers from a year ago. Who will step up? Dye is hoping he can. Here are the highlights of our recent interview:

[+] EnlargeXavier Dye
AP Photo/Richard ShiroSenior Xavier Dye is the top returning receiver for Clemson, which lost it's top three receivers from last season.
How have the receivers developed and where have you seen the most progress this summer?

Xavier Dye: I think the main thing is the guys have bought into learning the minor details. They’ve done good this whole camp. I’ve been pleased with how we’ve competed against each other. It’s made us better and going against our defense has made us better. Now we have to go out and execute and do the things we’re capable of doing.

It seems like Dabo and reporters like myself have questioned the consistency of your group. Has that been a legitimate concern, and do you think you guys have answered that this summer?

XD: Yeah, I think we’ve pretty much answered that. We’ve done a great job of it, the whole camp. We’ve had very few days that he’s come out and said anything to us. Maybe two days out of the 25 or 30 we’ve been out there that we hadn’t done our jobs the best we can. We’re going to have some days like that, but it’s better to have more good days than bad, and we’ve done a really good job of going out and producing every day.

Do you think what went on with you last year, taking that break from the team, can you look back on that as something you grew from? Maybe you needed that break.

XD: I think it really helped me out a lot, and I’m sure the coaches would probably say the same thing, that he really needed that wake-up call to get him to the point where he is now. That’s what really had happened, because at this time last year, I was being lackadaisical, really nonchalant about the whole thing. Now I’m at a different level. The young guys are actually following my lead. We’ve been going out having great practices. They look at me and if my energy level is down, they’re going to be that way, too. With me being a senior and the leading receiver coming back, they look to me because I’ve been there.

So what are your personal goals for this season? Are there specific numbers?

XD: There are numbers, but the main thing is for us to win and go out, compete and do what it’s going to take for us to win ball games. I’ll keep my personal goals to myself. I have them written down.

How important was it for you, and what was your reaction when Kyle (Parker) said he was coming back, being on the receiving end of that decision?

XD: It was a relief, this being my senior year. You don’t really want to start over with another quarterback. Tajh is going to be a good quarterback one day, but having Kyle come back with the experience he’s had, it’s a big help to us. He knows the offense just like we know it. That’s easier on us and some of the younger wideouts, because if you’ve got a young quarterback, and he’s learning, you can’t really ask him a question about what’s going on. You can screw with the whole play. Now we don’t have to start over, you can just build from last year.

Aside from yourself, who are the receivers who are going to be the go-to guys this year?

XD: Well we really don’t know, but we all will be considered. Hopefully I’m the guy who’s the go-to guy, but all of the other guys are working just as hard. We’ve all competed well. That’s a good thing, having depth at receiver.

Tuesday mailblog

May, 11, 2010
5/11/10
4:30
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Step into my office, which will be in Bristol later this week ...

Joseph in Tallahasse, Fla., writes: Heather, I just got married yesterday to a beautiful FSU grad. I also graduated from FSU undergrad and am currently at FSU Law. Naturally we are huge FSU fans and invited Bobby Bowden to the wedding. I didn't really expect him to come, but we were at least hoping for a regret, just as a little momento to add to my FSU memorabilia. He didn't even respond! So, my question to you is: Bobby's blow-off, fair or foul?

HD: Seriously, I couldn't make this question up if I tried. Didn't they teach you anything at law school? What proof do you have that he actually saw it? That his wife didn't toss it out with the FSU fundraising application? Maybe Jimbo intercepted it ...


Specialist Justin R in Iraq/Blacksburg writes: Hey Ms Dinich, thanks for keeping us deployed Hokie fans in the ACC loop. As most Hokie fans do every year, we enjoy saying "This is our year, the year we make it back to the National Championship". I'm thinking maybe this year, Tech might actually have a real chance (not just saying it this time). Everyone is saying the Boise State game will be our biggest test, but after looking at the schedule, I'm not so sure. That North Carolina worries me a bit. Looking at Mel Kiper's Big Board for next year is like looking at the NC roster on defense. What's your call on the tougher game - NC or BS?

HD: Me? You're the one we should be thanking for your service, Justin. You're right, Boise State is the first big hurdle, but it's certainly not the only one, and you should be worried about that UNC D. The Tar Heels should be a real contender for the Coastal this year. Here's the thing, though: If it's a national championship you're looking for, the Boise State game is the biggest of the bunch because of how strength of schedule factors into the BCS standings. Realistically nobody can afford to lose any games in college football if they have national title hopes, as even undefeated teams aren't guaranteed a spot in the title game, but the Hokies aren't going to make it to the top unless they beat the top nonconference competition first.


Michael in Ft. Myers, Fla., writes: With CJ Spiller and Jacoby ford out of the acc could Miami make a push for being the fastest team in the ACC?

HD: Well, I don't have everyone's latest 40 times, but considering coach Randy Shannon has said this is probably the fastest team he's had there, I'd bet it is. Just look at Miami's 400-meter relay team. It's made up entirely of football players.


Adam in Harrisonburg, Va., writes: Heather,Why aren't Virginia Tech's running backs getting more, or even close to the same amount of, hype than some other colleges running back tandems are??? My math may be off, but VT has over (4,000) yards of rushing offense alone returning from the past two seasons. Alabama can't say that. What else do we have to do???

HD: Adam, I'd say that having the Hokies ranked among the top 10 nationally in the majority of post-spring Top 25 lists is giving tons of credit to the running backs and to Tyrod Taylor. It's certainly not because of the six starters that have to be replaced on defense.


areynfsu24 in Columbia, S.C., writes: Just curious as to your predictions (based off spring practices and spring games) of how you see the ACC Atlantic/Coastal finishing up and your final prediction for who you think wins the ACC. Also, do you see Christian Ponder and Ryan Williams being Heisman candidates out of the ACC?

HD: I had Virginia Tech ranked No. 1 in my post-spring power rankings, and based on what the Hokies have done in the past (reloading on defense, two 1,000-yard rushers) I believe they should enter 2010 as the team to beat in the ACC. That being said, my early prediction is an upset in November and expect Miami and Florida State to meet for this year's ACC title. And yes, both of those players could be candidates.

Clemson spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
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CLEMSON

2009 overall record: 9-5

2009 conference record: 6-2, Atlantic Division champs

Returning starters

Offense: 7, defense: 6, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

DE Da’Quan Bowers, FS DeAndre McDaniel, LT Chris Hairston, RT Landon Walker, QB Kyle Parker, DT Jarvis Jenkins, LB Brandon Maye, RB Andre Ellington, RB Jamie Harper

Key losses

RB C.J. Spiller, WR Jacoby Ford, LG Thomas Austin, TE Michael Palmer, DE Ricky Sapp, LB Kavell Conner, CB Chris Chancellor, CB Crezdon Butler, LB Kevin Alexander

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Spiller (1,212 yds)

Passing: Parker* (2,526 yds)

Receiving: Ford (779 yds)

Tackles: Conner (111)

Sacks: Sapp (5)

Interceptions: McDaniel* (8)

Spring answers

1. Meet Dwayne Allen. The Tigers appear to have a capable replacement for former first-team all-conference tight end Michael Palmer, who set a school record for receptions (43) and reception yards (507) for a tight end last year. Allen had three catches for 83 yards in the spring game. He could be a centerpiece of the offense next year.

2. Liking the linebackers. The graduation of Alexander and Conner hurt, but coach Dabo Swinney liked what he saw from this group this spring. The Tigers are deeper and more versatile here and will have the ability to increase the number of plays per linebacker.

3.Holding their own. Heading into the spring, the punter and place-kicking jobs were open, but punter Dawson Zimmerman and kicker Richard Jackson both retained their spots. Jackson was inconsistent last year and missed two extra point attempts, but he tied for second in the ACC with 20 field goals.

Fall questions

1. Will Parker return? The dual-sport quarterback won’t determine his future until baseball season has ended. As his spring home run total increases, it becomes more of a question. His batting average and home run totals -- Parker leads the ACC in home runs -- continue to be a factor.

2. Spiller’s replacements. What four people will combine to do what Spiller did last year? Kick returns, catching the ball out of the backfield, the ground game -- Mr. Versatility will be missed. Ellington had a good spring with 13 carries for 86 yards in the spring game, and expectations are high for Harper.

3. Reaching at receiver. With Ford’s graduation, Clemson is looking for a new go-to player. Swinney liked what he saw from the group, as Xavier Dye and Terrence Ashe both had productive springs. Brandon Clear was one of the most improved players on the roster and will be given a chance to make some plays this summer.

Clemson's Taylor signs free agent contract

May, 5, 2010
5/05/10
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Former Clemson fullback Rendrick Taylor has signed a free agent contract with the Tampa Bay Bucs and will report to mini-camp May 17. He will work as a fullback and tight end, but also played receiver during his career at Clemson.

Taylor, who will graduate on Friday, played in 38 games for the Tigers over the past five years, 10 as a starter. He finished his career with 54 receptions for 533 yards and a touchdown and had 15 carries for 36 yards as a fullback.

Taylor is the fifth member of last year's team to sign a free agent contract and five other players were drafted two weeks ago. That's a significant bit of talent gone from last year's Atlantic Division champs:

Still, Clemson returns enough talent on both sides of the ball to repeat as division champs. The Tigers will have six starters back on defense, including four of the top five tacklers and three defensive linemen. Even though Chancellor and Butler are gone, Clemson's secondary returns players who accounted for 19 of last year's 21 interceptions.

Tuesday mailblog

May, 4, 2010
5/04/10
9:00
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I guess you guys read the power rankings yesterday ...

Doug in Coral Gables, Fla., writes: Heather,Please explain to me all the hype surrounding Florida State. Miami beat them last year in THEIR building and we are bringing back more experience. I respect FSU and think that they could be slightly worse than UNC, but 2nd in the ACC? Everyone seems to forget this team lost 4 of its first five legitimate games and almost lost to 1AA Jacksonville State.

HD: I understand where you're coming from, Doug, really I do. But it's impossible to ignore Florida State's offense, starting up front. That should be one of the best offensive lines in the country, and to me, that's FSU's biggest reason for hope. That and the fact the Noles only lost one starter on offense. And the way I look at the defense -- well, it can't get much worse. There have been nothing but positive remarks coming out of Tallahassee on the direction the program is headed under Jimbo Fisher, convincing me that change is underway. Of course, they've got to prove it this fall. And who says I don't think Miami has a chance to win it all this year? ...




Jon in Blacksburg, Va., writes: Why is it that you seem to always feel Miami will beat us in a given season? Last year you thought they were going to win it all (and Pat Forde) and this year you pick them to upset us on Nov. 20th? I don't know if it's just me but I just don't think they are that great of a team.

HD: Well, I was in Miami two years ago when the Canes DID beat Virginia Tech, so I know it can happen. (I was also in Blacksburg last year when the Hokies won, so I've seen the flip-side, too). I just think that with Jacory Harris being a junior, and the entire offense now having a year under Mark Whipple, the Canes have what it takes to take the next step. There is a lot of skill and speed on that team, and there is also mounting pressure for Randy Shannon in his fourth season. Those things are bound to add up eventually. But hey, don't count out Georgia Tech in the Coastal Division ...


Matt in Atlanta, Ga., writes: Heather, You always seem to underestimate GT. But, I guess Paul Johnson will prove the media wrong once again this year. And what is with this hype about Clemson? They are not that good. Tech beat them twice with a absolutely sorry defense. Now, then don't even have CJ Spiller and Jacoby Ford. If they win the Atlantic, it's just because somebody has to take the Atlantic title.

HD: Maybe I do underestimate Georgia Tech, but don't forget I picked Tech to beat Iowa in the Orange Bowl. The Jackets have some legitimate reasons to doubt them this year, including the loss of two first-round draft picks, a new defensive coordinator and a new defensive scheme. As for the Clemson hype, I think people are underestimating the Tigers. Jamie Harper and Andre Ellington will ease the loss of Spiller. They do need to find some consistency at receiver, though. The defense will be the strength ... at least until it plays Georgia Tech in late October, right?


Tom in Portage, Ind., writes: Recently there was a suggestion that the SEC was considering going after Florida State as a new member. If the Big 10 does expand, how vulnerable is the ACC and how will the conference respond? Also, if other conferences go to as many as 16 teams, is this something the ACC will consider?

HD: From what I gather, the ACC is on the backburner in all of this expansion talk, and would be one of the last conferences to be affected if at all. It's an impossible question to answer until we see HOW the Big Ten expands. Personally, I don't see what the Big Ten would have to gain by adding a team like Rutgers. Notre Dame? Yeah, that would make a difference and make sense, and the trickle-down effect would probably be moot. I do know the ACC likes its current 12-team alignment just the way it is and would rather not see anything change. Speaking of Notre Dame ...


Drew in Boston writes: Why would you write a column about the ACC's out-of-conference schedules and write about ever single team in the ACC except Boston College? Granted, their OOC schedule isn't great, but it still has ND and deserves some sort of analysis. And the decided lack of BC coverage on this blog has not only been noticeable, but insulting. We may be up north, but we're in the ACC too, Heather.

HD: I KNEW I should've put a disclaimer at the top of that post. That wasn't an intentional slight on BC, it was a slight on the Eagles' schedule. They don't play any nonconference opponents we have ranked! Sorry, but Notre Dame doesn't cut it. Last I checked, the Irish lost to Navy last year. And Syracuse is still one of the worst teams in the Big East. The whole point of that post was to see how the top opponents stack up. Not yet, anyway. And I just wrote about BC yesterday afternoon.


Kevin in Tokyo, Japan, writes: Heather,Glad to see you back at work. Hope all's well with the munchkin. The perennial fall of Miami and FSU seems to have others viewing the ACC as a weak conference. Do you think putting them high in the preseason rankings on an annual basis hurts the conference reputation, especially when neither has proven anything?

HD: Thanks, Kevin! I never thought of it that way, but to answer your question, no. The rankings don't hurt the ACC's reputation, the results do. It's good for those programs to have high expectations -- they should. It's time, though, for both of them to meet those expectations.


Daniel in Durham writes: Heather, I love reading your blog, but how could you put Duke 11th in your ranking? I'm not arguing that Duke is a contender in the ACC by any stretch of the imagination, but you have them behind Maryland and NC State, two teams that they beat last year. They also got a good schedule against the Atlantic by not playing FSU or Clemson. What keeps you from putting them higher in your rankings?

HD: One main thing -- no Thaddeus Lewis, the quarterback who beat Maryland and NC State last year. The staff has a lot of faith in Sean Renfree, who is very talented, but he'll be in his first season as a full-time starter and missed the spring with a torn ACL. Also, Duke's running game has really struggled, and the defensive line still has holes to plug.

NFL draft rewind

April, 26, 2010
4/26/10
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Good morning, ACC fans, hope you guys had a good NFL draft weekend. The ACC put together a good wrap-up of this past weekend's draft activity for the conference. The ACC ranked third this year among conferences with 31 players chosen. The SEC led with 49, followed by the Big Ten (34). The Big 12 had 30, the Pac-10 29, the Big East 18 and the Mountain West 13.

Here are a few notes to tie it all together for you:

  • For the sixth straight year, the ACC had more than 30 players selected.
  • Since 2005, the ACC and the SEC are the only two leagues in the nation to have had 30 players selected in each of the past six years.
  • Atlantic Division champion Clemson (C.J. Spiller, Jacoby Ford, Ricky Sapp, Crezdon Butler, Kavell Connor) and Coastal Division runner-up Virginia Tech (Jason Worilds, Kam Chancellor, Ed Wang, Brent Bowden, Cody Grimm) led all ACC schools each with five players chosen in the draft.
  • ACC champion Georgia Tech (Derrick Morgan, Demaryius Thomas, Morgan Burnett, Jonathan Dwyer) and Miami (Jimmy Graham, Darryl Sharpton, Jason Fox, Dedrick Epps) were next, each with four players chosen.
  • The ACC maintained its streak of having at least one top-10 selection in each of the past five years. Since 2006, the ACC is the only conference in the country to have had a top-10 selection in each year.
  • In all, 18 NFL teams selected players from the ACC.

Questions loom as Clemson staff looks to build on Year 1 success

March, 23, 2010
3/23/10
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Clemson coach Dabo Swinney can rattle off last year’s accomplishments and statistics seemingly without taking a breath, as effortlessly as an auctioneer.

Among those at the top of his list are the facts that Clemson finished the season ranked, won the Atlantic Division for the first time with the school’s best ACC record since 1991 (6-2), and won a bowl game for the first time since 2005.

It was an impressive season considering the doubt that engulfed the program and the staff at this time a year ago. A young head coach, an even younger offensive coordinator, a new staff and new quarterback had many questioning the direction the program was heading. Now, with the graduation of C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, who completed their college careers with more all-purpose yardage than any other duo in college football history, the question is whether or not the staff can maintain the standard it set in Year 1.

“If anything, we’ve just wetted our appetite here,” offensive coordinator Billy Napier said. “We’ve smelled the roses to some degree. There’s no complacency here. There’s no loss of an edge – maybe a little less anxious – but at the same time what we did is we’ve positioned ourselves to where we saw what it was about. If anything we’re more driven and more excited and more waking up each day looking for those opportunities to compete and get better.

“We’re the same people we were last year, we just have a year under our belts now and we can go to work and do our jobs,” he said. “Now the question marks are more about our personnel than about us.”

With their first full recruiting class behind them and the task of replacing 10 starters ahead of them – including their leading rusher, receiver and tackler - the 2010 season is a chance for Swinney and his staff to put their stamp on the program. The Tigers are looking for new playmakers, the go-to receiver and a tight end to replace Michael Palmer, who set school records for receptions and reception yards by a tight end.

“There are questions, but I think we have more answers than we did last year,” Swinney said. “… I’d say that we accomplished a lot of our goals, but people don’t want to look at where you came from. We all get greedy. Unless you win the championship, nobody’s happy. You don’t finish the way you want. But at the end of the day, as I evaluate where we are and where we’re going, we did a good job. Hopefully we can take what we’ve built and that foundation and get better this year.”

Is there anything left for this staff to prove? After all, they did take the Tigers to a place their predecessor, Tommy Bowden, was unable to – the ACC title game.

“Until we play in the last game of the season,” said running backs coach Andre Powell, “there’s always something to prove. And then after you do that, you have to prove you can do it again.”

Video: Three predictions for Clemson

March, 8, 2010
3/08/10
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ACC blogger Heather Dinich offers three predictions for Clemson heading into spring practice.

Odds 'n' ends from the NFL combine

March, 3, 2010
3/03/10
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You can find all of the NFL combine tests results here, but I thought I'd point out a few highlights -- and some lowlights -- for some of the former ACC players who participated the past few days.

[+] EnlargeFord
AP Photo/Michael ConroyJacoby Ford had the fastest time in the 40-yard dash of any player at the combine.
C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford showcased their blazing speed, as Ford posted the fasted 40-yard dash time (4.28) and Spiller was second among running backs (4.37). Kam Chancellor had a ball bounce off his hands and Crezdon Butler appeared "stiff in space" according to our Scouts Inc. report. Former Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan didn't do anything to jeopardize his spot as a high first-round pick, but safety Morgan Burnett missed the 40-yard dash with a hamstring injury.

• Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. on Virginia CB Chris Cook:
Virginia CB Chris Cook turned some heads at the Senior Bowl, and he's doing the same in Indianapolis. At 6-2 and 212 pounds Cook posted an unofficial 4.43 seconds. That's an excellent size-speed combination for a safety and rare to see in a corner. Cook also recorded a jaw-dropping 11-0 broad jump.

• Muench on former Virginia Tech linebacker Cody Grimm:
Virginia Tech's Cody Grimm is an interesting prospect. Grimm appears instinctive and relentless on film, but he played outside linebacker in college and is just not big enough to line up there in the NFL. He measured just 5-10^ and 203 pounds and would be a better fit at safety, where he would have the potential to develop into an adequate reserve and special-teams contributor. Grimm's 4.54 time in the 40 is encouraging because the average time for safeties last year was 4.63 seconds and in 2008 was 4.55 seconds.

• What to make of Jonathan Dwyer? He was listed as one of the 10 most polarizing players in the combine by Bruce Feldman:
There were a bunch of fast backs in Indy; Dwyer was not one of them. His size is good (228 pounds) and he looks dynamic on film, but some skeptics will wonder if much of that is due to the frenetic nature of the triple option scheme he played in at Tech. He didn't test as a particularly explosive guy, and he looked shaky in the position drills and didn't seem comfortable as a receiver.

• Here's an excerpt from Todd McShay on former FSU safety Myron Rolle:
Purely from a football standpoint, Rolle has the tools of a potential third-round pick who could be developed into an adequate starter two or three years down the road. However, while NFL teams love the Rhodes scholar's intelligence and work ethic, there is a growing concern regarding his long-term dedication to football. Rolle is in a truly unique situation and has a lot of convincing to do between now and the draft.

• The Sporting News listed Miami's Jimmy Graham, Maryland's Bruce Campbell and Clemson's Jacoby Ford among its offensive combine winners. Russ Lande of TSN listed Derrick Morgan and Virginia Tech's Jason Worilds among the defensive winners, but it doesn't sound good for Duke's Vince Oghobaase.

• Campbell really turned some heads with his 40 time. Chad Reuter of NFLDraftScout.com wrote:
Campbell also has 36.5-inch arms and bench-pressed 225 pounds 34 times. Said one scout said, "He has the best body of anyone I've ever seen."

• Of course, the question is whether he can block. Said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, "If there's a star so far in the combine, it's him. What he's going to have to overcome is the tape."

• Reuter on Miami's Graham:
Miami (Fla.) tight end Jimmy Graham ran a 4.56, according to NFL.com. Graham played only one season of football for the Hurricanes, but his basketball background intrigues scouts and his blistering 40 time could lift Graham as high as the second round.

ACC's lunchtime links

March, 2, 2010
3/02/10
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The links are starting to be drowned out by the madness of March in this conference ...

  • What are the odds that FSU has two assistant coaches on staff who ride Harleys? Pretty good, now that linebackers coach Greg Hudson has arrived. Maybe he and Rick Trickett can be Easy Riders together.
  • Miami's "problem child," Richard Gordon, says he's finally grown up.
  • Virginia Tech's Kam Chancellor wants a shot at playing safety in the NFL, but linebacker might be an option, too.
  • Former Clemson wide receiver Jacoby Ford answered a few NFL draft questions for The Sporting News.
  • As mentioned on Monday, Georgia Tech backup quarterback Jaybo Shaw will transfer.

Position superlatives: Clemson

March, 2, 2010
3/02/10
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We resume the superlatives series today with Clemson, which, despite the losses of C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, should be in contention for the Atlantic Division this year.

Strongest position: Defensive line

Key returnees: DaQuan Bowers, Jarvis Jenkins, Brandon Thompson

Key departures: DE Ricky Sapp

The skinny: Not only do the Tigers return three starters up front, they also welcome back Jamie Cumbie, who was like a fifth starter at defensive tackle, and Andre Branch, who played well at defensive end. Overall, nine defensive linemen return. Not bad for a defense that had a 4-0 record against the ACC’s top four passers and finished 13th in the nation in tackles for loss and second in the ACC in sacks.

Weakest position: Wide receiver

Key returnees: Xavier Dye

Key departures: Jacoby Ford, TE Michael Palmer and RB C.J. Spiller

The skinny: It’s not good when your leading returning receiver has 14 catches, but Dye is the veteran now. Terrence Ashe started some last year and Marquan Jones was Ford’s backup, but didn’t get many opportunities. Two newcomers who might have the chance to play right away are Martavis Bryant and DeAndre Hopkins. One under the radar player is Jaron Brown, who only had three catches last year but has shown the ability for more in practice.

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NFL combine: Spiller up, Dwyer and Ford down

March, 1, 2010
3/01/10
1:30
PM ET
Former Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, who was the top player at his position on the Scouts Inc. board, ran well on Sunday and kept his spot at the top of the class, according to Todd McShay, who was at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

Here's what McShay had to say on Spiller:
C.J. Spiller of Clemson -- the No. 1 back on our board -- was right behind [Jahvid] Best with an official 4.37. Spiller also put up 18 reps on the bench press and his top-end speed combined with his versatility has locked him in at the top of the class.

McShay isn't the only one who liked what he saw from Spiller. Here's what AFC North blogger James Walker had to say:
If the Browns don't go the free-agency route, Clemson tailback C.J. Spiller could be a sleeper candidate for Cleveland at No. 7. Already a top-10 player, Spiller solidified, and likely improved, his stock with a blazing (unofficial) 40-yard dash time of 4.28. The Browns drafted Spiller's former Clemson teammate James Davis last season. So rest assured, Cleveland's scouts have spent a lot of time the past two years tracking Spiller's career. Cornerback and safety are obviously bigger needs. But if those positions are taken off the draft board, I would take the top tailback (Spiller) over the top receiver (Dez Bryant) at No. 7 every time.

According to McShay, former Georgia Tech B-back Jonathan Dwyer wasn't as productive:
He looked sluggish clocking at 4.64 in the 40, and Dwyer's struggles catching the ball only increase concerns about what he can contribute on third down. He is in danger of falling out of the top 50 picks of the upcoming draft.

Speed isn't everything, though. Former Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford is blazing fast, but it will take more than that to be successful at the next level, writes McShay.
Clemson's Jacoby Ford blazed an official 40 time of 4.28, which is the top result thus far in 2010 and is the second-fastest posted at the combine since 2000. However, Ford's track speed does not always translate to the field. He struggles to transition in and out of breaks, lacks overall fluidity and has inconsistent hands. Ford is likely to be over-drafted because you can't coach his burst, but we would have a hard time considering Ford before Round 5.

ACC's lunchtime links

February, 25, 2010
2/25/10
12:00
PM ET
Thanks for helping out with the links today, guys ...

  • Robert in Greensboro, N.C., wonders if Jacoby Ford will run the fastest time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
  • Bob in Charleston, S.C., liked this piece on Clemson's defensive strategy.
  • Christian in Chapel Hill found some shiny new silver helmets the Tar Heels might unveil.
  • Former NC State wide receiver Donald Bowens is considering a transfer to South Florida.
  • Might Georgia Tech be without its top two quarterbacks this spring?
  • Patrick Stevens reviews the Terps' class of 2005, a class offensive coordinator James Franklin helped lure in.
  • Spencer Whipple isn't your ordinary scout team quarterback, thanks to a love for football that runs in the family.
  • FSU quarterback Christian Ponder has had to give up his honey-fried chicken in exchange for a few veggies, thanks to Jimbo Fisher's new emphasis on nutrition. I'd never last.
  • It was a no-brainer for Rick Petri to come back to Miami. Just ask his wife.

Senior Bowl rewind

February, 1, 2010
2/01/10
11:00
AM ET
Unfortunately for the ACC, there wasn't much to talk about in this year's Senior Bowl. Former Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford played the most integral role and finished second on the North team in all-purpose yards with 59.

The good news for the ACC? Some of the conference's best players were juniors in 2009. Had it been the Georgia Tech/North Carolina Junior Bowl, this game might have been a different story. But without players like C.J. Spiller, Jonathan Dwyer, Derrick Morgan, Ryan Williams, etc., this game didn't paint a fair picture of what the ACC had to offer in 2009 talent-wise. Not that there weren't some talented seniors. According to Clemson sports information director Tim Bourret, Spiller was invited but chose to heal the turf toe that had been nagging him all season.

The final stats:

  • Ford had one run for 6 yards, one catch for 7 yards and two punt returns for 46 yards.
  • Virginia fullback Rashawn Jackson had one carry for 1 yard, and one catch for 9 yards.
  • Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson was second with six tackles and one pass breakup.
  • FSU linebacker Dekoda Watson had three tackles.
  • Miami linebacker Darryl Sharpton had three tackles.
  • Former FSU safety Myron Rolle had three tackles.
  • Maryland safety Terrell Skinner had three tackles.
  • Virginia cornerback Chris Cook had two tackles.
  • Maryland fullback Cory Jackson had two tackles.
  • UNC defensive tackle Cam Thomas had one sack for a loss of 7 yards.
  • Wake Forest cornerback Brandon Ghee had one tackle.
The best story to come out of the Senior Bowl for the ACC was that of Rolle. Following the week of practice, ESPN's Todd McShay gave Rolle a final grade of an A-minus and wrote that Rolle could be a third-round draft pick. That's impressive, considering Rolle spent the past year in Oxford studying as a Rhodes Scholar. He proved -- once again -- that being a standout athlete and student don't have to be exclusive of each other, and for that, the ACC couldn't have asked for a better representative in this year's Senior Bowl.

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